❖ “Pakistan’s PM [Raja Pervez Ashraf] has hailed as ‘a victory’ for democracy the completion of a full term by an elected government for the first time in the country’s history.” Ashraf “is facing corruption allegations.”
❖ “High-ranking Syrian general defects from army”. Also, “Human Rights Watch said Syria’s government is killing an increasing number of civilians with cluster bombs.”
❖ “Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan“. BTW, the US missed the March 10th deadline given by Afghan President Hamid Karzai for “all Special Operations troops” to be out of Wardak Province.
❖ From her ivory-towered prison to the nitty gritty of political life: Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi has much to learn.
❖ “Senior UK military figures” say “Iraq war planning wholly irresponsible” and “lack of intelligence [about Iraq] a national disgrace”. Paul Wolfowitz “has conceded that a series of blunders” by GWB & Co. “plunged Iraq into a cycle of violence that ‘spiralled out of control’”.
❖ “Europe Announces Stunning Bailout For Cyprus–Bank Depositors To Get Instant 10% Tax Before Banks Reopen This Week”. Actually, that’s 9.9% for €100,000+ deposits in Cyprus banks and 6.75% for lower amounts. “People in Cyprus have reacted with shock“. Cyprus wants relief for “small depositors”. More here and here.
❖ Wall Street Journal’s “Observations on Cyprus”: “decline of sovereign immunity”, “Let banks grow at your peril”, “Euro-zone=political poison”, “property rights are conditional in a financial crisis”, “solidarity among [euro zone] governments is limited”.
❖ “World poverty is shrinking rapidly . . . [UN] report uses nutrition and education as yardsticks as well as income”. Prediction: acute poverty will be eradicated in 20 years.
Money Matters USA
❖ Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “St. Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland . . . to Wall Street.
❖ The President of the Dallas Fed says it’s time to break up the too-big-to-fail banks–”practitioners of crony capitalism”, ”threaten[ing] financial stability”.
❖ “People in their 30s and younger currently have a net worth half of what” their parents had at the same age.
❖ US House Republicans “unanimously voted down a bill that would have raised the minimum wage.” Six Democrats joined in: Barrow (GA), Matheson (UT), McIntyre (NC), Owens (NY), Peterson (MN), Schrader (OR).
❖ “Records show Detroit’s [new] emergency manager has tax liens on his Maryland home: [Kevin] Orr says he didn’t know about them, promises immediate action.”
❖ New York Times editorial: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)’s budget “would raise nearly a $1 trillion in new revenue over a decade by eliminating tax loopholes and breaks that benefit wealthy taxpayers and corporations. . . . [It also] cuts an equal amount of spending [but] avoids the reckless damage to vital programs and to the poor in the budget favored by the House.”
❖ Simple graph showing Senate budget vs Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s budget spending cuts.
❖ This is a hoot: What’ll happen to the national debt if we don’t go with Paul Ryan’s budget.
❖ House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) admitted today there’s no “immediate debt crisis”.
❖ Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): The Democrats’ budget ends offshore tax havens and increases the minimum wage.
❖ They will not be moved. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on the teevee today: ”there is no acceptable ratio of spending cuts to new revenues because tax increases are unacceptable to Republicans, period.”
❖ Remember those wonderful Nuns on the Bus? They’re part of NETWORK. Sister Marge Clark of NETWORK is hoping that Pope Francis will “write a letter to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) about his ‘extremely unjust’ budget..”
❖ “A federal district court judge in San Francisco has ruled that National Security Letter . . . provisions in federal law violate the Constitution.” The FBI has been using those provisions to get customer information from telecommunications companies and “permanently gag service providers” about such actions.
❖ Weld County, CO Sheriff John Cooke “won’t enforce either gun-control measure waiting to be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper” (D).
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ 20,000 people are needed to sign up “millions of Californians for health insurance”. They’ll have access to “highly sensitive consumer information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, income data and tax returns”, but many agencies are opposed to background checks and fingerprinting for them. What could possibly go wrong?
Women & Children
❖ “Paedophilia ‘not a criminal condition’, says leading Catholic: South Africa’s top Catholic says people abused as children not criminally responsible if they abuse others in adulthood.”
❖ Steubenville, OH rape case verdict: guilty. Minimum sentences: 1 year for one and 2 years for the other in juvenile detention center, though that can change. Next up: Grand Jury. Some Twitter reactions.
❖ ND’s Senate rages on, passing a bill barring abortion “as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected [roughly six weeks]” and another banning abortion “based on sex selection and genetic abnormalities.”
❖ Student proficiency rates between 2008-2012 increased in wealthier Washington, DC school districts and fell in poorer ones. In short, Michelle Rhee and her like-minded successor “managed to INCREASE the size of the Achievement Gap in Washington, DC.”
Planet Earth News
❖ BP “is taking legal action . . . to limit payouts by a fund set up to compensate those affected by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”
❖ Alberta, Canada’s government paid for an ad in the New York Times: “Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason”.
❖ Shale oil wells in MT ain’t what they were supposed to be. Some drillers have already pulled out, others are drilling at a loss.
❖ Industry- and ALEC-sponsored bills in CA, NE, TN, and other states will undermine efforts to video farm animal abuse, according to animal welfare advocates.
❖ Could Canada’s Harper government be pulling a fast one, getting the Burnt Church First Nation to give up treaty rights?